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Voices: Should Local Police Enforce Immigration Laws?

A. Elena Lacayo
Immigration Field Coordinator
National Council of La Raza

On the claim that Immigration and Customs Enforcement is only trying to deport the "worst of the worst":

"We keep hearing that. But we haven't seen the effects of that in the field. We haven't seen that those are the priorities they're actually using to apprehend people or to prioritize people. When they've brought this up, we say that, 'Well, the majority of people you're apprehending are not in fact dangerous criminals, they're not in fact potential terrorists. The majority of them are, you know, people who are picked up for minor crimes."

D.A. King
Supports federal 287(g) program allowing state and local police to initiate deportation.
Cobb County, Ga.

"The measure of effectiveness of 287(g) is fully illustrated in the cacophony of opposition, of howling raging objections from the other side. If anybody tells me 287(g) doesn't work, I laugh in their face because I know two things: It's getting illegals off the street and serving as a deterrent. The biggest benefit of 287(g) in the county jail is the fact that people in the country illegally soon migrate to a more hospitable place.

"People are sort of sitting back taking bets on whether 287(g) will be here in six months. The push is on from La Raza and the ACLU to kill 287(g). When Obama gets ready to push for his amnesty in earnest, he has to be able to go back and point to his efforts at enforcement. He can't kill 287(g) because then he wouldn't have that leg of the stool to point at when he goes for legalization."

Don Kerwin
Vice President for Programs
Migration Policy Institute
Washington, D.C.

On those who think selecting deportees based on whether they are a public safety threat or other criteria amounts to back-door amnesty:

"They don't get the prioritization point. They don't get the prosecutorial discretion point. They don't get the point that every effective law enforcement agency in the world has to prioritize. That's what they don't understand. They're not facing the reality that you can't deport your way out of this situation."

Jessica Vaughan
Director of Policy Studies
Center for Immigration Studies
Washington, D.C.

On whether the administration might do away with 287(g):

"To me, it says the administration has accepted hook, line and sinker this idea that this kind of immigration law enforcement is carried out in a way that's necessarily going to bring civil rights complaints and abuse of authority, and that immigrants and anyone of color (are) going to be vulnerable to the possibility of such abuse of authority if local police are allowed to do this this way. And they've bought into that in the absence of any actual incidents that have been substantiated and shown that this is a problem, when you let locals do it they're going to be harassing people, and discriminating and pulling people over for driving while brown and so therefore we can't let them do that."

Raed Gonzalez
Immigration attorney
Near Houston, Texas

On the administration's use of priorities to select who should be deported:

"We should have done this a long time ago. Do you feel safe every time that you hear that they went to a chicken plant and arrested 50 Mexican nationals? Or do you feel more secure when you hear that they arrested 10 individuals who committed aggravated felonies against citizens of this country? Don't tell me you're doing something for homeland security and the safety of everybody because arresting the guy who's making tacos on the corner isn't making me feel safe."

Capt. Wes Lynch
287(g) Officer
Sheriff's Department
Whitfield County, Ga.

"Even using ICE databases, you might have somebody who's using seven different names on six different occasions. Who are they? And I'm supposed to decide what kind of character this person is? …The problem with prioritization is that you don't have enough information to make an informed decision about whether someone is a danger to the community or not. You don't know who they are. A lot of times you don't even know what their real name is. You don't know if they have a criminal history in the country they came from. It's hard to prioritize when you have no access to their criminal background."